The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 4/27/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: April 27, 2016
Guest: Michael Cohen, Tim Miller, Bob Kasten, Phyllis Bennis, Tom Nichols,
Karine Jean-Pierre, Robert Traynham
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: We will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time
for THE LAST – turns out to be upsetting and disgusting and tragic.
But it also turns out not to be over yet. Watch this space. And that does
it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now, it`s time for THE
LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rachel. This is the day
where I heard the phrase hail Mary more than I`ve heard since any Super
MADDOW: Guilty –
O`DONNELL: Yes, you know, I want to kind of reclaim it. Hail Mary was the
very first prayer that the sisters of Saint Joseph taught me in first grade
at Saint Brendan`s in Dorchester.
And Rachel, there was not a whiff of desperation in that prayer.
Not a whiff. It`s a lovely, little, you know, child`s prayer, nothing, but
pleasantry in it. Let`s not let them have that.
MADDOW: We need something more desperate sounding. We need –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
MADDOW: To leave Mary –
O`DONNELL: And –
MADDOW: Out of this –
O`DONNELL: We need – yes, and I`m not sure what the desperation prayer
is, but it isn`t – it isn`t hail Mary. It isn`t.
MADDOW: From here on now, let`s just call it hail Carly.
O`DONNELL: Yes, you can – there you go –
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: There you go, much better.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence –
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. Well, Donald Trump is not the only one who
thinks that Ted Cruz`s performance with Carly Fiorina today reeked of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re just about ready to put it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His candidacy just got five states less funny.
TRUMP: Now, we`re down to two stragglers, let`s be nice, two stragglers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s John Kasich`s game?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kasich is still polling very high in the state of
TRUMP: A new relationship has started, Cruz and Carly.
Cruz can`t win. What`s he doing picking vice president?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), MSNBC HOST: Our girls have come to adore Carly.
CARLY FIORINA (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know two girls that I
just adore. I am so happy I can see them more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a desperate act of a desperate campaign.
FIORINA: This is a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our
TRUMP: They talk about the elites in Washington. You think they have a
better plan than I have? I don`t think so.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC MSNBC HOST: I don`t think Donald
Trump has any (INAUDIBLE) whatsoever.
TRUMP: Who do you want? I mean, look, we know – we know.
FIORINA: We get to play. We get to play.
SANDERS: Hillary Clinton and I agree, we will do everything we can to make
sure that a Republican does not win the White House.
TRUMP: Me, I don`t back down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And we begin tonight with rule number one for desperate
That rule is do nothing, absolutely nothing that looks desperate. The Ted
Cruz presidential campaign broke that rule today in absolutely spectacular
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: An extraordinary leader, my friend and the next vice president of
the United States, Carly Fiorina!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, Ted Cruz found the only way he could have made last
night`s big win by Donald Trump seem even bigger, choosing a vice
presidential candidate 82 days before the Republican convention when he is
far behind the frontrunner in delegates and states won.
And Ted Cruz chose for his vice presidential nominee who will never be the
Republican vice presidential nominee, a candidate who cannot add one ounce
of fuel to the Cruz campaign.
Judging by resumes alone, Carly Fiorina is the least qualified choice for a
vice presidential nomination since Sara Palin.
Ted Cruz could not have thrown an easier softball for Donald Trump to hit
out of the Republican park today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Today, I`m in the plane and I see on television they have a new
relationship has started – Cruz and Carly.
He`s mathematically eliminated. He has set a record, though. He is the
first presidential candidate in the history of this country who`s
mathematically eliminated from becoming president who chose a vice
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, at least he got his place in history. Last night, Donald
Trump passed Mitt Romney`s Republican primary vote total from four years
Donald Trump now has over 10 million votes and as of now is on track to
break the record for most presidential primary votes of any Republican
candidate in history.
But Donald Trump is still more than 2 million votes behind Hillary
Clinton`s vote total in the presidential primaries.
Today, Donald Trump continued to attack the Ted Cruz-John Kasich alliance
in which John Kasich has agreed not to compete in Indiana this week and Ted
Cruz has agreed not to compete in two states that are voting later in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Cruz, when they did this little marriage of the two of them, boy,
did that backfire, right?
What a disaster. They were embarrassed, they`re getting terrible press,
and what it is, is an act – it`s collusion.
It`s an act of desperation. But you know, in business when you collude,
they put you in jail.
Politics is such a rigged deal that it`s probably one of the few places
that you can collude and get away with it.
It`s a really bad idea that they`re doing this because it shows total
weakness. They`re admitting that they`re done. They`re done.
By the way, neither of them have a path to victory. There`s no path and
we`re going to win as you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Michael Cohen; columnist at the “Boston Globe”,
he is the author of the new book “American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and
the Politics of Division”.
Also with us, Bob Kasten, former Republican senator from Wisconsin, he
supports Donald Trump.
And Tim Miller, senior adviser for Our Principles, an anti-Trump PAC. He
was a former spokesman and communications director for Jeb 2016.
Michael Cohen, when you – when you look at the list of possibilities for
Ted Cruz to choose a VP, very shortlist because no one in their right mind
with a political future would ever take it –
MICHAEL COHEN, COLUMNIST, BOSTON GLOBE: Yes, I think he was the first
person who said yes, probably –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
COHEN: Was how Carly Fiorina got the job. I can`t imagine wanting – who
wants this job, you`re not going to become vice president. You`re just
going to be basically a punch line, that`s the point.
O`DONNELL: And it seems to me, it just emphasized the Trump big win last
Instead of, you know, the move you`re supposed to make, it`s something that
seems like really big news for you after your bad night, it seems to be the
COHEN: No, absolutely. I mean, this has made Trump – made Cruz look
desperate, absolutely desperate.
And this is a move that doesn`t make any sense. I mean, he was
mathematically eliminated last night from contention to win the convention
– the nomination outright before the convention.
So, you know, why is he picking a vice presidential candidate?
O`DONNELL: Tim Miller, the pressure is on, the “Stop Trump” movement more
intensely than ever before. The job looks more difficult by the day.
Where does it stand now?
TIM MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER, OUR PRINCIPLES PAC: Look, I think you guys
actually underestimate the value that adding a woman to the ticket,
somebody who`s taken on Donald Trump –
O`DONNELL: Yes, I guess we do. I guess we do –
MILLER: Yes, you look, he – Carly took on Donald Trump better than
anybody else in the presidential primary debates, and you know, I think
that she deserves credit for that.
And I think that she is – you know, there`s going to be an asset to Ted
over the next week. Indiana is of course important.
And look, Donald Trump I think underestimates the fact that he has not
reached the 1,237 delegate mark.
And so, there`s still a long campaign ahead of us. We have five weeks
until California in June when there are a lot of delegates at stake.
And Donald Trump certainly has demonstrated that he can make plenty of
mistakes between now and June 7th that will give us an opportunity to beat
him both in Indiana with Ted Cruz and then looking forward in states like
Nebraska and California.
O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, there are now three phases to the “Stop Trump”
movement, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. What does that change?
BOB KASTEN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Well, I think first of all, it`s
been a – it`s been a great 48 hours.
Both of these marriages, whether it`s the Cruz-Kasich marriage, which was
two or three news cycles ago or now the Cruz-Fiorina marriage, both of them
I think have backfired.
Both of them make Cruz look desperate as we`ve all talked about and both of
them have basically set Cruz back a half a step.
The emphasis is shifting once more on to the results and look at what
happened in five different states last night with huge victories.
So, the fact is that yes, Cruz might have gotten a new cycle here or there.
But the important fact is that Donald Trump is winning day after day.
And in fact, I think today, Cruz helped Donald Trump a lot by making these
mistakes in terms of trying to somehow or another change the subject and
unsuccessfully change the subject from the fact that Donald Trump is
winning and Ted Cruz is losing.
O`DONNELL: And –
MILLER: Lawrence, I think it`s funny, Donald, the surrogates just – if
you look at the clips you played today, are obsessed with talking about the
political process because he offers nothing of substance.
And he was supposed to do his big presidential pivot today with a foreign
policy speech that had absolutely utterly no substance at all.
And he might as well have pantomime the speech and it was completely
contradictory on a number of levels.
And so, I think that demonstrates just how shallow his candidacy is and
that`s the best that he has to offer at this point.
O`DONNELL: And, oh, Michael –
COHEN: I think you have to look and – look and –
O`DONNELL: Go ahead –
COHEN: See what`s happening. Look and see the results.
O`DONNELL: Michael, I just want to be fair to the – to the Cruz-Kasich
It was aimed at Indiana, it had nothing to do with what happened last
night, but Donald Trump gets to declare it a failure because of what
happened last night even though it didn`t have anything to do with –
COHEN: It didn`t, part because there`s no hope for Kasich-Cruz to win
anything last night. And –
O`DONNELL: Right, and it was – it was announced – it was announced way
too late –
COHEN: Sure –
O`DONNELL: To affect anything that happened last night –
COHEN: I mean, it should have –
O`DONNELL: But the test of it is in Indiana.
COHEN: Absolutely, but I think to some extent, it doesn`t really matter.
I mean, even if he doesn`t get 1,237, there`s just no way that you can deny
him the nomination if he has the most delegates, and he will have the most
delegates going ahead in Cleveland.
And I just think that – Republicans who think that they can – they can
stop Trump or that they can find someone else to come in and be the
nominee, they have two choices.
Either Trump is the nominee or they basically inflame and upset all of the
Trump supporters and probably lead to a third-party run from Trump or a
ride in candidacy –
O`DONNELL: Trump won`t do a third-party run –
MILLER: Well, Trump can run third party –
COHEN: He might do a riding candidacy –
O`DONNELL: It will be – it will be too late, he won`t be able to do it
and he also cannot afford it.
But Tim, the problem I think that you`re saying that the party has is, it
either goes down in some sort of, you know, figurative flames by denying
Trump with the nomination even though he has almost enough delegates.
Or it goes down in flames by letting him have the nomination.
MILLER: Right, and look, Trump as the nominee would get absolutely
massacred by Hillary Clinton in the general election.
And then a poll after poll shows that he`s losing to Hillary in Arizona by
eight points. Arizona only two times in the last 100 years has a Democrat
So, I think that`s one example. And look, I think that it`s interesting
that we always have to worry about disenfranchising the people that voted
Or what about the over half of the Republicans in the party in the
conservative base that has said no to Donald Trump throughout this process.
He is not consolidated before last night in any state over 50 percent, and
he needs to do that throughout the whole country to get the majority of
delegates like every other Republican nominee has done.
O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, if your candidate Donald Trump does get the
nomination, he will have done so as the weakest nominee in terms of success
in primaries and delegate collection of recent memory.
And he will also be getting it apparently in the face of polling that shows
him losing substantially to the Democrat.
KASTEN: Well, I think both are changing. The fact is that Donald Trump
has been underestimated from the very beginning.
His job was to win in a group of 17, he`s done that. We`re now moving into
the general election.
We`re moving toward the race against Hillary Clinton, and I think it`s
important to look at what happened just last night in Pennsylvania when
large numbers of Democrats and independents registered as Republicans.
There`s a possibility now that a lot of labor union, blue collar Democrats
and independents are coming over and joining the Trump coalition.
I think you`re seeing –
MILLER: There`s no –
KASTEN: On Capitol Hill –
MILLER: There`s just no evidence –
KASTEN: You`re seeing more and more different people –
COHEN: That that happened –
MILLER: There`s no data to back that up –
KASTEN: In winning the group, and I think overall, we`re seeing a
tremendous amount of consolidation already.
O`DONNELL: Right –
KASTEN: Now, it is – it`s going to start to happen when we get to
Cleveland. It`s going to start to happen before we get to Cleveland.
In the last 24 hours.
O`DONNELL: Let Bob, OK, we get your point, Bob, Michael, you`re saying
that`s wishful thinking.
COHEN: It`s wishful thinking.
O`DONNELL: Based on the evidence so far –
COHEN: There`s no polling evidence at all that he`s appealing to anybody
but Republican voters.
Democrats, independents overwhelmingly view him unfavorably. There`s no
evidence that there`s this great, massive, white, blue collar voters that
are coming to vote for him.
It`s just not going to happen. He inflames minorities, he inflames women,
he`s a toxic candidate.
And I think anybody who thinks he – and beat Hillary Clinton in November
is crazy. I mean, this is not –
MILLER: And –
COHEN: Going to happen.
MILLER: And general election, Lawrence, doesn`t bring amnesia with it.
Try – these voters –
O`DONNELL: Right –
MILLER: Now –
COHEN: Yes –
MILLER: Have seen him for the past year. They`ve rendered a judgment on
him, he`s been on TV every night, and these voters don`t like him.
His unfavorable ratings are at unprecedented levels for a potential
nominee. That`s not just going to go away because all of a sudden Donald
Trump tries to change his persona.
O`DONNELL: Bob Kasten, we`ve never seen –
KASTEN: Step by step, win by win –
O`DONNELL: Bob, let me –
KASTEN: We`re seeing this change.
O`DONNELL: Bob, let me ask you this. We have never seen a candidate
perceived successfully to a nomination and let`s presume for a moment that
Donald Trump is proceeding successfully to a nomination.
KASTEN: Right –
O`DONNELL: While at the very same time doing more damage to that candidacy
in the general election and driving up a general negative feeling about him
in the country.
We`ve never seen anything like it, we`ve never seen a disapproval rating of
a candidate as high as his in the history of polling.
How can that candidate if he somehow pulls off that nomination by a couple
of delegate votes in Cleveland, how can that candidate –
KASTEN: I think –
O`DONNELL: Possibly make up the ground by November?
KASTEN: I think he`s making up the ground already. I think he`s made up
ground between January and today.
And I think the results, particularly the results in Pennsylvania last
night showed that.
To win all the counties? I mean, it`s one thing to win the states. But to
win 60 different counties.
I know this is a Republican primary campaign right now, but the change, the
growth, we`re now down to – I mean, the movement is going in the right
And I absolutely think there were some numbers today that I was looking at
showing Trump and Clinton very close in Florida.
There are a number of things that are happening. It`s happening –
Fast in the country. The change is taking place. The movement is in the
right direction, and you first of all got to look at the winning votes last
O`DONNELL: All right, Bob Kasten is going to have to get the last word on
this segment tonight because we`re out of time.
Michael Cohen, former Senator Bob Kasten and Tim Miller, thank you all very
much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it –
KASTEN: Thank you –
O`DONNELL: Thank you –
MILLER: Thank you, Lawrence –
KASTEN: Nice to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Republican will join us who sees the Trump
campaign this way. This is his quote, “the Trump campaign is a test of
character and many Americans are failing it.”
And why did the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee praise
Donald Trump`s foreign policy speech today?
Could it possibly have had anything to do with Donald Trump winning that
senator`s state in the presidential primary campaign?
And tonight in the war room, our first strategic look at the general
election campaign and later election confessions.
They`re going to be really fun tonight.
O`DONNELL: In election confessions tonight, wait until you hear what one
woman said she will do if her husband votes for Donald Trump.
Our latest installment of election confessions coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And then there`s ISIS. I have a simple message for them. Their
days are numbered. I won`t tell them where, and I won`t tell them how?
ISIS will be gone if I`m elected president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump reading a foreign policy speech on a
teleprompter in Washington today. Here`s what Donald Trump himself thinks
about that kind of speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Actually, I didn`t read – I don`t use teleprompters, I don`t like
it, they`re too easy.
Other people use tele – maybe when you run for president you shouldn`t be
allowed to use a teleprompter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump didn`t just have a simple message for ISIS, he had
a simple message for Russia, a simple message for everyone else in the
A message that would have been laughed out of any Senate Foreign Relations
Committee hearing, but was publicly taken seriously by the chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very pleased with what I heard. I thought it was
a great step in the right direction. I thought it was full of substance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Bob Corker knows that his re-election two years from
now in Tennessee will depend heavily on Donald Trump supporters.
Donald Trump won the Tennessee primary, and so you can expect to hear more
supportive words from Senator Corker and other Republicans in states where
Donald Trump`s supporters are the strongest.
Joining us now, Phyllis Bennis, a fellow with the Institute for Policy
Studies in Washington, and Tom Nichols, professor of National Security
Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College.
He is also the course director for security strategy and forces. Phyllis
Bennis, your reaction to the Trump foreign policy speech today?
PHYLLIS BENNIS, ACTIVIST & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for someone who
claims he was trying to look presidential, you had to dig really deep to
find a statement of policy somewhere in there.
I found one. I did find one. You had to dig, it was sort of towards the
end. And the policy was essentially that we will strengthen and promote
western civilization, not anything that remotely looks like universal
That I think was very important. That`s where his so-called foreign policy
such as it is links with his anti-immigrant xenophobia.
The anti-Muslim rhetoric, the anti-Mexico rhetoric, the claims about
building a wall, that`s where all that fits in.
We`re not talking any longer about a foreign policy that acknowledges
whether we want to agree with them or not.
That there are such things as international law, the United Nations, human
rights, those are off the agenda.
What`s on the agenda is America first as we`ve been hearing and this notion
that America will be strong and a reliable ally and I`m not going to tell
you how I`m going to do it.
It was very reminiscent of Nixon`s call when he was running for president
and said, I have a secret plan to end the war.
The secret plan of course turned out to be escalation. And I think,
although it`s clear that somebody like Trump does not come to this.
He has a streak of isolationism on the military front. He doesn`t come to
this moment with an ongoing commitment towards regime change as the default
position of U.S. foreign policy as some other candidates do.
But he does have an absolute inability to articulate anything remotely
resembling what diplomacy might look like.
What a non-military approach might look like, what a successful way of
dealing with ISIS might look like.
So, one has to wonder with – if he were in a position of power, which I
think would be a very dangerous reality, what we would then see is, I think
an immediate grip for towards the military.
That would be his instinct because he doesn`t have anything else.
O`DONNELL: The – his secret plan to make ISIS instantly disappear when he
becomes president is not the only secret wrapped into this speech.
Let`s listen to what he said about making a deal with Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Some say the Russians won`t be reasonable. I intend to find out.
If we can`t make a deal under my administration.
A deal that`s great, not good, great for America, but also good for Russia,
then we will quickly walk from the table.
It`s as simple as that. We`re going to find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And what we didn`t find out is, what would the deal be about?
Is it a trade deal?
Is it a negotiation about arms? Is it about Ukraine? We have absolutely no
idea. And Professor Nichols, you get the impression that Donald Trump
believes that the United States of America has deals.
Just these things called deals with all the big countries and maybe all the
countries in the world, and you just negotiate that deal and then that
country is taken care of.
TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE:
I think Phyllis is being too kind. She actually found a message somewhere
in there. I looked –
BENNIS: I had to dig for it –
NICHOLS: And I found nothing. I think that`s imposing a certain amount of
intellectual order on a speech that was just a lot of chaos in words
BENNIS: No, it was only one line –
NICHOLS: I think –
BENNIS: Just one line.
NICHOLS: I think Trump has never expected to get this far. I think this
is a candidacy that got far down the pike much further than his advisors or
he expected to.
And I think a bunch of his advisors got together and said, well, we`re this
far down, you`re supposed to give a foreign policy speech.
So, here, here`s a bunch of slogans, say that you`re going to make
everything better, you`re going to make everything awesome, you`ll make
some deals, you`ll fix it.
You won`t be President Obama, you`re going to be awesome and that`s his
There was nothing to hang anything on in there. That was the first thing I
thought about that Russian deal.
We`ll make a deal with Russia, about what? We will make deals with China
about North Korea.
We`ll make deals with Mexico – there`s no content to any of this as is
true of most of Trump`s statements.
O`DONNELL: Well, but Phyllis, there`s this spot where we`ll make a deal
with China because China is going to like Donald Trump better.
And then there`s the spot where we will have a trade war with China.
BENNIS: Yes, and you know, this goes to the question of substance.
There`s no clarity, there`s no actual policy here.
It`s interesting. I mean, this is coming from a man who thinks somehow
that ISIS is getting rich off Libyan oil when anyone who knows anything
about either Libya or ISIS or Syria knows that the oil that ISIS is able to
sell comes from Syria.
In Libya, the ISIS forces, whether they`re tied to ISIS in fact or not,
those who claim to be part of ISIS are nowhere near any oil production.
So, he just – he doesn`t seem to know the difference between Libya and
NICHOLS: I seriously doubt that – I seriously doubt that Donald Trump can
find any of those places on a map –
BENNIS: I would agree with you –
NICHOLS: Or cares about them –
O`DONNELL: Tom, you`ve written speeches, drafted speeches for Republican
senators in the past about foreign policy issues.
When I look at this and I realize, there was staff involvement in writing
it, I can`t imagine what that was or who those people are.
And it certainly feels like there was a heavy editing hand by Donald Trump
to make it simpler than whatever it was they delivered to him.
NICHOLS: Well, he clearly went off script in a couple of places. He
wasn`t going to make just good deals, he`s going to make great deals.
He threw in his trademark, “believe me”. And the speech itself read like
people had just cut up articles from various conservative journals and the
“New York Times” and the “Washington Post” and whatever they read that day.
Threw the hat, picked it up and then pasted it on a – on a teleprompter.
But that`s – again, when Donald Trump gives a speech – if he`s not
talking about himself, if he`s not talking about his polls.
If he`s not talking about how awesome he is, he gets lost very quickly.
And I think, truthfully, I don`t think he understood half of the things he
was actually saying in that speech.
I think he was struggling to keep up with it, because I think most of those
subjects are just over his head.
O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis and Tom Nichols, thanks for joining this
discussion tonight, appreciate it.
BENNIS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, in the war room, the Trump strategy for the general
election. But first, what you might have missed on the campaign trail
O`DONNELL: So Donald Trump is now encouraging Bernie Sanders to run as a
third-party candidate. Donald Trump knows that that is never going to
happen, but he`s trying to inflame division in the Democratic Party. That
is part of his general election strategy and that`s coming up on “THE WAR
ROOM” tonight. But first, here is the way it looked today on the campaign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Politics is
very strange and funny things happen.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Moments from now, Donald Trump will deliver a
formal foreign policy address.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our foreign policy is a complete
and total disaster.
MITCHELL: It will be scripted.
TRUMP: We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.
MITCHELL: He will use a teleprompter.
TRUMP: Believe me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The remarks, we`re told, were initially written for Mr.
Trump, but that he rewrote them today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lindsey Graham said that this speech made no sense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we`ll be looking at is this presidential persona,
almost as important as the content of what he says today.
TRUMP: Lying Ted, right? Lying Ted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cruz is hoping to change the conversation.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next vice president of
the United States, Carly Fiorina.
TRUMP: Aye aye aye. I have such a headache. You get a headache watching
CARLY FIORINIA (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Indiana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Critics are calling the timing of this announcement
desperate. Is it?
FIORINA: No, it`s not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you guys seen Hoosiers before?
TRUMP: Then last night he called the rim a ring, so he doesn`t know too
much about the basketball world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you respond to that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a hoop, right? It`s a hoop.
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST: NBC`s Chris Jansen sat down with Sanders
exclusively just a few moments ago.
SANDERS: We are the underdog, but I think that we have a narrow path to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty percent of Senator Sanders` supporters think
they`re not going to support her in a general. Secretary Clinton has a
challenge on her hands.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m sorry that people are going to have to see this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you score on Bernie? No, you did not.
SANDERS: It`s pretty strange here, I think it`s fair to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s War Room. The war room is, of course, the
most important place in a presidential campaign. It`s where the senior
campaign strategists plan their next moves, their big ad buys, their
attacks, their defenses against the other attacks. Tonight, Trump campaign
war room is focused on winning Indiana. It has to be, but it also has to
be focused on the fight for California because that is the only state that
in the end that can deliver him enough delegates to win the Republican
nomination on the first ballot at the convention and there`s one more
little thing that the Trump war room has to be focused on every day and
every night, something that he seems to have been ignoring, and that is the
general election battle to actually win the presidency in November. The
latest NBC/Wall Street Journal general election poll, presuming Hillary
Clinton and Donald Trump are the nominees, has Hillary Clinton beating
Donald Trump by 11 points, 50 to 39. Last night, we got a peek at one of
the Trump strategies for the general election – try to keep the Democrats
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Democrats have treated Bernie very badly, and frankly I think
he should run as an independent, OK? I think they`ve treated him very
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us in The War Room tonight, where the only rule is, to
get in this war room, you have to have been in a real presidential campaign
war room, Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser and national spokesperson
for the 2016 elections for moveon.org, a former deputy campaign manager for
Martin O`Malley`s presidential campaign, and deputy battle ground states
director for President Obama`s 2012 campaign. Also joining us, Robert
Traynham, Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst and a former
senior adviser to Bush/Cheney 2004.
Karine, Trump wants Bernie to run as an independent, which of course he
knows is a joke, but he wants to do everything he can to keep the division,
that Hillary versus Bernie division in the Democratic Party.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER AND NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON FOR THE 2016
ELECTION CAMPAIGNS, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, I think that`s actually a smart play.
Normally I`d be like, oh, this is like a Trump antics that he`s normally
doing, but this is – what he`s trying to do is definitely stop the
potential coalescing behind the nominee. So if I was a strategist on the
Hillary Clinton campaign, my concern would be, hey, I want to make sure
that we do not alienate Sanders` voters, these youth voters that we keep
hearing about that are usually apolitical, but now they`re out here and
they`re voting and they`re enthused and they`re excited. Got to make sure
that these guys are able to cross over and go to Hillary Clinton if she`s
the nominee and once that happens at the convention, and there`s a couple
of ways of doing that as a strategy.
Number one, she needs to continue talking about her story of 2008 and how
she was able to go into the trenches, really convince her supporters who
about 40 percent at the time said they wouldn`t vote for Obama, and
continue doing that and say, hey, I did it, I know I`m not your number one
pick, I know I`m not your number one choice, but I did it for Obama,
Sanders can do it for me. And also, there is like doing a mini campaign
that`s targeted towards youth voters, which is going to college campuses,
bringing back Chelsea Clinton if she can, right, because she helps to
humanize her and really talk about her being a grandmother and a mother and
I think that really, really worked. And also, bring back Val on “Saturday
Night Live”. That seems to have worked as well. And one last thing – the
White House correspondents dinner is happening this Saturday. I know it`s
an inside ballgame, but Obama did a great job doing his dinners and maybe
she can get a cameo there, that would be a lot of fun, and we saw him
skewer Donald Trump in 2011 which –
O`DONNELL: That`s why Donald Trump`s not going this year. I just want to
listen to something that Donald Trump said on “MORNING JOE” today about
this kind of using the Bernie divide. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m going to be taking a lot of things that Bernie said and using
them. I can reread some of his speeches, I can get some very good
material. He said, in many ways she shouldn`t be there. He said some
things about her that are actually surprising that essentially she has no
right to even be running and that she`s got bad judgment. When he said bad
judgment, I said, sound bite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Robert, I always watch these primaries with an eye on, what
have the Republican candidates said that can be used against the Republican
nominee, what have the Democratic candidates said that can be used against
the Democratic nominee. I have never heard more ammunition unloaded
against Donald Trump if he`s the nominee than what has come from the
Republican campaigns themselves this year. Marco Rubio with the con man
line, and right down the line. You could just fill up the Democratic Party
advertising with just sound bites of Republican candidates talking about
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course. Look, when you`re in
the war room, it`s us against them, and I call it the message box. What
are you saying about yourself, what is your opponent saying about you, what
is your opponent saying about others, and what are others saying about your
opponent. And look, at the end of the day, we like to say that Ronald
Reagan`s eleventh amendment, thou shall not speak ill of another
Republican, is the gospel, but the reality is, you are really in a fight
with your brethrens, if you will, and a lot of these brethrens, if you
will, whether it be Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or you go on down the list, really
do not think that Donald Trump is a true conservative, and so they`re
saying to themselves, what`s going on here? I can`t believe I`m losing to
this guy. I have better ideas, I have much more substantive ideas, and so
therefore I`m going to try to take him down. Now obviously they`ve failed
so far because Donald Trump has really ignited something in this country,
but the reality is is that it really is a survival of the fittest and when
you`re in the bunker or when you`re in the war room, you`re trying to make
sure that you`re the last man standing, and as of right now, it looks like
it`s Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz.
O`DONNELL: And Robert, I have to say, hearing what Trump said today about
Bernie Sanders, it`s the first time that he seems to me to have actually
been saying something that shows he`s thinking a little bit about the
general election. Prior to now, he`s always been thinking about next week
and nothing beyond next week.
TRAYNHAM: Yes, well he said two things last night which I think were
interesting. The first thing he said was look, I assume that I am the
presumptive Republican nominee, so he`s clearly pivoting to the general
election and that`s not a bad thought because he clearly is trying to
contrast himself with Hillary Clinton. The second thing that he said, and
obviously this was this morning, was trying to pivot to a deep foreign
policy speech, which in my opinion wasn`t very deep, but the reality is,
he`s trying to appear much more presidential. But I would have to slightly
disagree with you, Lawrence. I don`t think what he said on “MORNING JOE”
this morning was very original. I think it was more of a carbon copy where
he said it was great material that he can read, and I`m paraphrasing here,
he can read from Bernie Sanders` speech. I don`t know exactly what that
means. What he really should be doing is contrasting himself – literally,
if you`re in the bunker here, why am I different from Hillary Clinton from
a policy standpoint? How can I convince voters in these battle ground
states, and at the end of the day, it`s still going to be the battle ground
states of Michigan, Ohio, Florida, probably Virginia, probably North
Carolina, and maybe Colorado. How do I make sure that those states flip to
the Republican column, because at the end of the day, I need 270. So
Donald Trump really needs to think strategically here about how he`s going
to contrast himself on the issues with Hillary Clinton, because talking in
platitudes and – if I was his strategist, talking in platitudes and
talking about yourself, and about how you`re number one and the whole nine
yards, it doesn`t matter. What really matters here is the substance and
that`s what Donald Trump and I think his advisers really need some help on.
O`DONNELL: Karine, the Republican war room, the Trump war room, has a
problem that I don`t see at this point in the Hillary Clinton war room,
which is, Donald Trump`s going to have to change in many ways who he is in
order to appeal to a majority of voters. In the Clinton war room tonight,
are they looking at the general election and saying, here are some of the
fine-tuning adjustments we need to make from the primary message to the
general election message?
JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, most definitely. I think it`s been happening for some
O`DONNELL: What would be an example of that?
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think it`s basically, OK, we know that, for example,
Trump has said, hey, the woman card today, and she said deal me in – it
was last night she said it – she said, deal me in. And I think – his
negatives are at 69 percent. That`s a great place to go to start really
thinking about, OK, how are we really going to push that? What`s the
opposition research that`s out there that`s still out there on Trump? Who
are some surrogates that we can put out there? I think Madeleine Albright
was on the internet today just tweeting about Donald Trump and everything
that he`s saying about women, and I think that`s one way, that`s definitely
an entry point that they need to continue to explore and really take that
TRAYNHAM: Lawrence, can I say something about that?
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Robert.
TRAYNHAM: Because I think this is really important. What Hillary Clinton
did this morning, actually, and last night, was absolutely brilliant from a
strategist standpoint. What she did is she took a personal attack that
Donald Trump made about her about quote unquote, the woman card, and then
she turned it about all women. So in other words, you attack me, you`re
not attacking me, you`re attacking a huge swath of people. So yes, you`re
attacking me as a women, fine. If you`re going to say that I`m standing up
for equal pay, if you`re going to say that I`m standing up for women`s
rights to choose and so forth, so she`s personalizing in a way that it`s
very, very human that all women can say, that`s my woman, that`s my girl,
she`s fighting for my beliefs.
JEAN-PIERRE: And she`s energizing the base.
O`DONNELL: She personalized it and turned it into policy, which is the
thing Trump would never be able to do in that kind of moment. Karine Jean-
Pierre and Robert Traynham, thank you both very much for joining us in THE
WAR ROOM tonight. Really appreciate it.
TRAYNHAM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, voters share their deepest, darkest – this is really
weird stuff, I`m telling you, we`re going to have to dim the lights –
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s election confessions. We have a secret
ballot in this country, but how secret are you about who you`re voting for
this year? It seems more people are keeping more secrets about this
election than ever before and election confessions, an NBC News experiment,
is collecting those secrets. You can call or text your election
confessions to 424 353 2016.
Now, to tonight`s sample. We should dim the lights for this. Sterling,
can we take this down, a little more intimate thing here? OK. It`s –
this stuff is amazing. Here is a small sample of what we`ve collected for
tonight and this first one is, I am 57. My husband is 75. Been together
for 35 years. He said he is voting for Trump. I told him if he does, I
will not take care of him when he gets older.
Boy, this is getting tough. And then there`s this – I never really liked
Hillary before, but now I find I am pulling for her to win and I am a
registered Republican. What is happening?
And our next confession, I`m going to vote for a woman president even
though I know that Bernie is the candidate who supports what I believe in.
And our last confession for tonight, and there`s plenty more to come –
usually vote Democrat, but voted for Trump. Sanders is a charlatan and
Hillary might have legal issues and I want the Republican Party to implode.
Having lots of fun watching it all. By the way, have two degrees and voted
You can see more election confessions at electionconfessions.com. Coming
up, a Republican who doesn`t want anyone voting for Trump and who is
finding some of his friendships strained because of it.
O`DONNELL: Have you ever lost a friendship over politics? I never have.
I have Democratic friends, Republican friends, liberal friends,
conservative friends, socialist friends, Hillary friends, Bernie friends,
Obama friends, Romney friends, McCain friends, but, I have not yet been put
to the ultimate test in friendship – surviving politics, because I do not
have, as far as I know, anyway, a Trump friend. I don`t have any good
friends who are supporting Donald Trump. And that doesn`t mean I`m
completely isolated from society living in some fantasy bubble, because
most Americans do not support Donald Trump. Sixty-one percent have an
unfavorable view of Donald Trump. Only 10 million people have actually
voted for Donald Trump in a country of over 300 million people, that`s less
than 3 percent of the population, but for conservatives and members of the
Republican Party, the Trump candidacy is becoming an ever growing tension
in relationships. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin who used to be full of praise
for each other have hit a tough spot, with Glenn Beck now saying that Sarah
Palin has abandoned her principles by supporting Donald Trump.
Our next guest is a Republican who says, if my opposition to Trump is going
to cost me friends, then all I can say is, so be it. Back with us, Tom
Nichols, professor of national security affairs at U.S. Naval War College.
Tom, I want to just read a part of what you wrote about this and about
Trump supporters. You said, the Trump candidacy isn`t really about
politics, which is why it divides people so deeply. Trump and his views
are ghastly in a way that goes beyond politics. They challenge our human
decency and patriotism, that`s why they test not only our political
associations but our friendships. Tom, we`ve never seen anything like this
NICHOLS: Well, we`ve had highly divisive kinds of candidates before.
Remember if you went back to the 1970`s and watched a comedy like all in
the family, every episode was about the whole family arguing about Nixon,
and having pitched shouting matches over people like Richard Nixon. What`s
different this time is that it`s not about policy. Donald Trump`s
character is front and center because that`s all he has. He doesn`t have
policies, he`s made this into more or less a referendum on himself as a TV
star where people feel they know him and they feel comfortable with him and
so it strains friendships because Trump does things that are despicable
that we would never accept from anybody else, and it causes a lot of
tension because people then end up arguing about the terrible things Trump
has done rather than any kind of policy or any kind of question about what
he would do as president. And I think that that is something that is
unique, and I think especially the fact that it`s being fought out on
social media where everybody is just ruder and louder than they would
normally be, I think, has really added to that, and Trump, of course, is
the loudest and rudest – one of the loudest and rudest voices on social
O`DONNELL: Yes, and you make a distinction between some people who will
vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils, they`re not enthusiastic about
it, and then you concentrate on the enthusiastic Trump supporters and you
say this – Trump supporters are now like roaring drunks in a bar fight,
people who you might have tried to reason with five drinks earlier, but are
now just lashing out at everyone in every direction. The blind madness
puts both political and emotional distance between Trump supporters and the
rest of us. And we do see that on social media and elsewhere.
NICHOLS: The other problem too is that – the kind of arguments that we
might have had, and we did – at least some of us in the conservative
movement had with Trump supporters back in say August, were different,
because people back then could say, well, yes, I know he`s a little
outrageous but maybe deep down he`ll be presidential, he`ll change – it`s
been a lot of months since then. There`s nobody who can really claim that
they don`t know what Donald Trump is, and that makes things very tense
between even people who are friends, because Trump is just so divisive as a
O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you very much for
Chris Hayes is next.
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